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DEP Proposing New Regulations for Oil and Gas Wells

Posted: July 18, 2010

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed updating existing regulations for oil and gas wells. The revisions would update existing rules for drilling, casing, cementing, testing, monitoring, and protecting oil and gas wells, as well as for protecting public and private water supplies.

The concern of  Marcellus Shale exploration and drinking water supplies has PA DEP revising the regulations to cover these concerns.  Benefits of these revisions would provide more protection for the property owners and for water sources, early detection of construction problems, increased reporting for the protection of human health and environment, decreased chance of gas migration, and specific steps for emergency response.  The proposed new rules are related to:

1.       Increased construction standards for cementing and casing a well.  These revised standards are similar to those in other states such as New York, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana and reflect common industry practice.

2.      Restoration or replacement of water supplies by the operator at their expense  with a source that meets drinking water standards as good as or better than their previous water supply, if they are at fault

3.       Well inspections every 3 months and reported to DEP annually.  Any signs of leaks or pressure within the wellbore must be reported to DEP and the problem fixed.

4.       Specific procedures to follow if gas migration occurs.

5.       Cementing and casing plans as to how the well will be drilled and completed made available prior to drilling.

6.       Blow-out prevention equipment use, location, personnel training in use of equipment, and procedure for how defective equipment will be handled outlined.

7.       Increased regulation on following up on gas migration complaints and notification of DEP and emergency responders.

8.       Submittal of water source used for drilling and chemicals used to stimulate the well to DEP.

9.       Reporting of gas production every 6 months that will be posted on DEP’s Oil and Gas website.

There will be a 30-day  public comment period as well as 4 public hearings scheduled around the Commonwealth.  For more information,  visit DEP’s website at www.depweb.state.pa.us .